BFE/RMA Research Students’ Conference 2020

Conference dates: 
9 Jan 2020 to 11 Jan 2020
Department of Music, The Open University, Walton Hall MK7 6AA

Report by Rashel Pakbaz

Images by Gerard Giorgi-Coll

The 2020 annual BFE-RMA Research Student Conference sponsored jointly by the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Royal Musical Association was hosted by the Open University’s Music Department from 9 to 11 of January 2020 at the OU’s Walton Hall campus in Milton Keynes.

UK and international graduate and post graduate students presented their research in an inclusive, welcoming, and encouraging atmosphere. The conference also comprised of other events such as training workshops, informal performances and social events.

Participants were offered an array of interesting topics including papers in relation to music and pedagogy, opera, analysis, instruments, history, health and wellbeing, popular music, place, religion, politics, autoethnography, technology, identity, gender, women, fandom, film, and dance. The conference programme also included lecture-recitals and sessions on compositional processes, as well as composition workshops. Each presentation concluded with a conversation. Highlights included the session on music and politics, which surveyed the music making scene in twenty-first century China, and music and fandom, which focused on the audience and their activities in relation to popular music songs and artists. Both of these sessions were followed by a lively discussion.

Katherine Butler Schofield

Keynote lectures were given by Katherine Butler Schofield from King’s College, London and Sean Curran from the University of Cambridge. In the BFE Lecture, “Archives Differing: The Practice of Global Music History and the Paracolonial Indian Ocean, c. 1760-1860”, Dr Butler Schofield presented the trials and benefits of bringing different types of colonial archives from the Bay of Bengal and Malay together in order to investigate the ways in which music and sound were produced. The RMA Roche Lecture by Dr Curran, “Music Writing and Music History in a Thirteenth-Century Song”, discussed ideas around power and the documenting musical works in the thirteenth century.

Sean Curren and Simon McVeigh

Training sessions at the conference involved discussions about how to explore and plan careers, publication, funding applications and resilience-building. A career consultant and an expert on research grant applications from staff at the Open University led the workshops on career planning and finding funds. These sessions helped attendees to explore different industries outside academia where music graduates can seek jobs and how to write a successful bid for funding for postdoctoral programmes. Four music academics shared their valuable experiences with the attendees at workshops on “Thinking about Publication” and “Resilience-building for Research Students”.

During the day, participants engaged in informal conversations at tea and coffee breaks and continued socialising and networking during wine receptions in the evening. The 2020 BFE-RMA Research Student Conference provided participants with a friendly environment to present their works, learn from each other’s research experiences and meet new scholars. Congratulations and many thanks to the conference committee and the Music Department at the Open University.